When you need a gift for that special collector in your life, where do you turn? I mean, even if that special collector is you?

Back in the 1970s or 1980s, you could go to one of the hobby papers in July or so to make sure your orders got to your doorstep before the Fat Man’s big day, but today …

Today, we can find pretty much anything we want online.

And, if what you want are 1970s baseball cards — with an oddball twist and at a reasonable price — these ten just might be up your alley.

There’s one for each year of the psychedelic decade, and none of them will set you back more than a C-note.

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1970 Milton Bradley Complete Set

1970 Milton Bradley Complete Set

In 1969, Milton Bradley issued a baseball board game, complete with 296 black-and-white player cards that measure 2″ x 3″. You rolled the dice and then collected the outcome corresponding to that number on the back of your card.

Roll a five with Hank Aaron, for instance, and the home run king added to his dinger total.

The game was back in 1970, but pared down to 28 player cards to go along with 32 generic playing cards.

While the player choice is (obviously) much reduced, the good news is that you get Hall of Famers like Aaron, Willie Mays, Rod Carew, and Ernie Banks, along with other legends such as Tom Haller, Denis Menke, and Don Mincher, all for a reasonable sum.

And if you’re looking for a heftier burden, MB was back with a 402-card game in 1972.

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1971 Fleer World Series Set

1971 Fleer World Series box

Fleer had already had their hands slapped a couple of times by 1971 for trying to go after current players and compete head-to-head with Topps.

So, while they prepared their antitrust lawsuit against the cardboard giant, Fleer went about its business of tackling retired and dead players. In this case, they brought back their cartoon-based World Series issue, following their own lead from 1970.

The 1971 set features 68 cards, each one detailing one Fall Classic from 1903 through 1970, plus a card for the missing 1904 Series.

Though much of the subject matter repeated from the year before, Fleer rolled out new cartoons and replaced blue ink on the back with black fare.

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1972 Kellogg’s All-Time Baseball Greats Set

1972 All-Time Baseball Greats Set

Collectors spent a lot of time in the summer of 1972 eating cereal in an attempt to track down the flashy, 3-D baseball cards that Kellogg’s included in specially marked boxes.

That task was compounded by the possibility of not just one set to collect, but two. Because, in addition to the current-player issue of 54 cards, Kellogg’s also offered up a 15-card set of All-Time Greats.

The checklist is everything you’d think it might be with a name like that and at that point in history:

So, yeah, it’s loaded. And with extra, um, weight attached to the Babe.

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1973 O-Pee-Chee Team Checklist Set

1973 O-Pee-Chee Team Checklist Set

OK, so these are technically not a standalone issue, but rather an insert set seeded “randomly” in late-series packs in 1973.

Still, they’re a pretty cool concept, with each card showcasing facsimile autographs of a team’s players on the front, along with a checklist of those players’ individual 1973 OPC cards on the back.

This oddball exists in a Topps version, too, but why not go bilingual when you can?

The whole shebang got a sequel in 1974, when blue borders were replaced by red.

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1974 Topps Traded Set

1974 Topps Traded Set

Now, this set is a trailblazer, but in an amalgamated sort of way.

Topps had been adding “now with” lines on cards at various times over the previous ten years or so and went so far as to stamp “TRADED” on a few late-series 1972 cards (looking at you Little Joe Morgan).

But this was the first time the Old Gum Company dedicated an entire set to traded players, rolling out 43 dudes in full airbrush glory, plus a checklist.

These cards were distributed as part of the company’s first-ever factory set and also seeded in late-run wax packs.

Which, you know, sort of negates that whole idea of 1974 Topps being the first issue dumped on the market all at once, as opposed to in series.

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1975 Shakey’s Pizza West Coast Greats Set

1975 Shakeys Pizza West Coast Greats Set

To be honest, this set is not all that great from a quality standpoint.

The images are in black and white, the design elements are like literal cut-and-paste artifacts from a kindergarten class, and there is more white space than you’d find on a polar bear’s face.

Overall, they make you wonder if Shakey’s meant for them to be used as coasters rather than saved as actual collectible baseball cards.

But they were issued by Shakey’s, an iconic franchise that for many of us evokes childhood memories like other institutions from the 70s — Love American Style, Ayr-Way department stores, wait-til-your-father-gets-home spankings.

Sweet, terrible memories, all.

And the Shakey’s set does feature some awesome players and managers, like Ted Williams, Arky Vaughan, Fred Hutchinson, and Casey Stengel.

And George Burns, though probably not that one.

Fun stuff, even if the quality is a little, uh, Shakey.

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1976 Linnett Superstars

1976 Linnett Superstars Reds Set

I wrote about the Luis Tiant card from the Linnett set awhile back, but we can go bigger with this entry … it’s Christmas, for gosh sake!

Depending on your tastes, the Linnetts let you celebrate the 1976 World Series, with 12-card issues for the Cincinnati Reds (my homer is showing again) or the Boston Red Sox.

Or, you could go with the Los Angeles Dodgers — good choice if you wanted a Doug Rau lollipop-head card.

These days, you can probably still find these things in complete sheet format, or in stacks of hand-separated cards.

Either way, you’re in for some nifty black-and-white art work, and some groovy 70s colors and fonts.

Right on!

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1977 Burger Chef Fun Meal Discs Tray

1977 Burger Chef Fun Meal Discs Tray Triple Play

Burger Chef may or may not be the greatest burger joint of all-time … I tend toward “yes” on this one, but then, I also like Rick Reuschel better than Catfish Hunter as a Hall of Famer.

Go figure.

What there is no debate about, though, is that Burger Chef Fun Meals were -F-U-N, with a capital hellyeah!

And that was especially true when those Fun Meal trays featured punch-out discs of baseball players, as they did in 1977.

Sporting a 1976 MSA copyright, the Fun Meal cards covered 24 of 26 teams, skipping just the expansion Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays.

And, at nine discs per team, this set gave us guys who never appeared on an MSA issue anywhere else … even though the opportunities were seemingly endless.

So, give me a Fun Meal tray with Cesar Cedeno or Dave Winfield or even Sixto Lezcano, and we just might be friends for a good, long while.

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1978 Burger King Tigers Set

1978 Burger King Tigers Set

I wrote about this set awhile back when talking about the Hall of Fame cases of Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, and Lou Whitaker. But it’s worth a return visit for a few reasons …

  • Burger King sets are cool.
  • Burger King sets (sometimes) gave us new photos.
  • You get single-player rookie cards of Morris, Trammell, and Whitaker.
  • You can still get them pretty cheap.

And, even if you’re not a Tigers fan, every old-time baseball fan knows just how amazing and important that 1984 juggernaut of a team was.

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1979 Topps Comics Set

1979 Topps Baseball Comics Set

Have you ever sat down and chomped through an entire box of Bazooka bubble gum?

If not, then you probably aren’t a man/boy who grew up in the 1980s or before, or you haven’t read “Henry and the Paper Route” by Beverly Cleary.

‘Cause if you check both those boxes, you gotta have some Bazooka pedigree.

And a huge hunk of the Bazooka Joy was pulling those campy Bazooka Joe comics that wrapped each little pink slab of sugary heaven. They were waxy, hard to read, and drawn with a shaky hand, but they rocked.

Same thing with these baseball comics that Topps issued as a “test” set in 1979, except the drawings were better and the writing, easier to read.

And, while this set probably conformed to some degree to the limited-distribution mantra of test issues, there are plenty of them available on eBay and elsewhere today.

The 33-comic set is loaded, too, with big names like Pete Rose, Dave Parker, Johnny Bench, George Brett, Nolan Ryan, and … um … Craig Swan lining up to aggravate your TMJ.

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